Photo: Illustration/Floating solar test setup as part of SOLAQUA project (Courtesy of SOLAQUA)

Simulation tool to optimise yield from offshore floating solar plants

Scientists from Malta have developed and verified a simulation tool that can help developers assess the effect of waves on the offshore floating solar system and optimise its energy yield.

Illustration/Floating solar test setup as part of SOLAQUA project (Courtesy of SOLAQUA)
Illustration/Floating solar test setup as part of SOLAQUA project (Courtesy of SOLAQUA)

The tool was described in a study published by researchers from Malta’s Institute for Sustainable EnergyRyan Bugeja, Luciano Mule’ Stagno and Nicolas Branche, which explored the effect of wave response motion on the insolation of offshore photovoltaic installations.

Offshore solar energy is possibly the most important future step in the harnessing of solar energy, according to the study.

Since no long-term offshore solar installation exists to date, various unknowns are still present, creating a research gap.

For instance, floating structures will have some type of response to incoming waves. This response is highly dependent on the design of the floating structure. This response will have some effect on the insolation on offshore solar systems installed on floating structures, the scientists said.

Therefore, the researchers have developed a simulation tool that would allow an offshore system designer to assess this effect in order to minimize it and thus, optimize the energy yield of the system

The simulation tool was verified with an experimental setup that simulated sinusoidal wave responses, the researchers said.

The research, expected to improve the design of offshore floating platforms used for solar installations, was supported by the Maltese Regulator for Energy and Water Services (REWS) through the Research Innovation and Development Trust (RIDT) of the University of Malta, as part of the SOLAQUA project.

The data and software presented in this study are available on request from the corresponding author.